Apple CEO Tim Cook has fired back at reports into issues surrounding the company’s operations and partners in emerging markets, claiming that the company is not ignoring the problems.

As 9to5mac reports, Cook contacted company employees to reassure them that Apple is working to raise standards for its employees and partners across the world, in response to numerous media reports of poor working conditions and other problems, triggered by New York Times investigation.

In the internal email, Cook claims the company is tackling the issue head on, saying, “what we will not do and never have done is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word”.

The Apple leader also reinforces the company’s responsibility for all those who work with Apple products, saying that “we care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain”.

In his correspondence, Cook highlights the ongoing efforts to improve conditions with suppliers and keep them to account, stating that every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain”.

Cook believes that there is no other company in the industry that is working so tirelessly to make a difference and his email tells employees that Apple has made “a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers”.

Last year, Apple commissioned a record 229 audits on its operations in China as part of an ongoing push to raise standards in the country, which includes subjecting its partners up the full criteria of the Fair Labour Association (FLA).

2011 also saw the Cupertino-based firm sit down with its partners in China to discuss environmental issues. The content of the talks was kept from the public domain but Ma Jun, who is the director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs in Beijing, told the Wall Street Journal that the coming together was a major step forward .

Below is the email in full:

Team,

As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I d like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.

For the many hundreds of you who are based at our suppliers manufacturing sites around the world, or spend long stretches working there away from your families, I know you are as outraged by this as I am. For the people who aren t as close to the supply chain, you have a right to know the facts.

Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain. As we reported earlier this month, we ve made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers. We know of no one in our industry doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people.

At the same time, no one has been more up front about the challenges we face. We are attacking problems aggressively with the help of the world’s foremost authorities on safety, the environment, and fair labor. It would be easy to look for problems in fewer places and report prettier results, but those would not be the actions of a leader.

Earlier this month we opened our supply chain for independent evaluations by the Fair Labor Association. Apple was in a unique position to lead the industry by taking this step, and we did it without hesitation. This will lead to more frequent and more transparent reporting on our supply chain, which we welcome. These are the kinds of actions our customers expect from Apple, and we will take more of them in the future.

We are focused on educating workers about their rights, so they are empowered to speak up when they see unsafe conditions or unfair treatment. As you know, more than a million people have been trained by our program.

We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues. What we will not do and never have done is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word. You can follow our progress at apple.com/supplierresponsibility.

To those within Apple who are tackling these issues every day, you have our thanks and admiration. Your work is significant and it is changing people’s lives. We are all proud to work alongside you.

Tim